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Monday, June 27, 2022

Netflix employee trust erodes amid layoffs – The Hollywood Reporter

few months ago, Netflix An internal Google document containing amendments to the company’s culture memo began to circulate. The document received some 10,000 comments from employees prior to the final product – Published on Netflix’s job site – was previously released to the public in May.

Notes included instructions for employees to “spend” [Netflix] Members money wisely” and a reminder that leaders also need to be accountable for adhering to company values. But there was a section in particular on “artistic expression,” which stood out to some employees.

“Not everyone will like – or agree with – everything on our service,” the note specifies, Ends with a message targeted directly at employees: “Depending on your role, you may need to work on headings that you consider harmful. If you have difficulty supporting the breadth of our content, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

The updated entry appeared to be a direct response to an internal and public outcry at the streaming giant last October near, A Dave Chappelle comedy special that included several transphobic jokes. Although Netflix received a lot of public backlash and co-CEO Ted Sarandos admitted that he “tied up“His initial response to the staff’s concerns at the time, Dreamer, announced a deal with Chappelle. Chaar More Comedy Special And has taken a hard line toward what is perceived as “artistic freedom” – even at the potential cost of its own employees – as part of its company culture.

“In 2021, talking about what was in the best interest of the business was still a part of the culture,” said a former Netflix employee. Hollywood Reporter, “With the rewrite, … Netflix has made it clear that the new command is ‘If you don’t like it, leave.'”

Whereas most organizations today usually have a document outlining values, Netflix stood out in 2009 when CEO Reed Hastings publicly released the company’s approach to management as one. 125-Slide Deck Including the seemingly radical concepts of the time, such as unlimited leisure and “avoiding the rules.” The deck, which has since been revised into a formal culture memoir, served as the inspiration behind Hastings’ 2020 book, No rules rules.

But this month’s memo change comes during a period of great turmoil for Netflix, which is struggling with a slowdown in subscriber growth as competitors like Disney breathe down streamer’s necks. During the first quarter of the year, Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers and is expected to lose an additional 2 million more in Q2 — losses that have battered the company’s stock and left employees and investors alike flying high and high. is concerned about the future development of -spender. To help prevent some of those pitfalls, Netflix has begun Experimenting in new areas of business such as advertising and video games – the former of which Hastings was once a staunch opponent.

But as with any company trying to cut costs, Netflix is ​​reining in its spending increases and has implemented Two rounds of major layoffs within a one-month period, the latest round cutting 150 full-time employees, or about 2 percent of the company’s total workforce, and several dozen contractors working in Netflix’s editorial division — some of whom have Was recently brought in months ago and worked exclusively on channels that served under-represented identities like Strong Black Lead, Con Todo, Most, and Netflix Golden.

Social channels are all run within Netflix’s marketing division and are meant to tailor Netflix’s programming to specific audiences and build strong communities with viewers. strong black lead, for example, launched in 2018 to promote Netflix’s programming featuring Black talent and creators and build a meaningful community with Black audiences throughout the year. Since then, the marketing brand has launched an original video series, a podcast, and has over 804,000 followers on Instagram and 253,000 on Twitter.

Following that success, Netflix’s marketing team launched additional channels for Latino communities such as Con Todo; For the most part, LGBTQ+ audiences; And, right now, Golden, for the Asian diaspora. Each of those channels has many thousands of followers on Instagram and Twitter.

Netflix said the editorial cuts, which were done across all social channels — not just identity-focused ones — are part of a larger strategy to build social content in-house rather than through external contractors. The company also laid off a number of employees in the family and animation divisions in the last round of layoffs and has left the animated projects at work from Ava DuVernay. Meghan MarkleAlthough Netflix has said that those series were scrapped for creative reasons.

“We are making changes to the way we support our publishing efforts, including bringing this important work in-house,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “Our social channels keep growing and innovating, and we’re investing heavily in them.”

While the social accounts are still in operation, editorial staff are questioning Netflix’s commitment to diversity, noting that several contractors said they were encouraged to join Netflix because of writers, editors from diverse backgrounds. And it had a perceived focus on supporting creators.

In addition to promoting uniquely identity-focused social channels, Netflix has emphasized its commitment to inclusion with recent financial pledges, including $100 million, or 2 percent, of its financial holdings to banks that support Black communities and create a $5 million fund to invest in Black creators and businesses. Dreamer has also focused on improving the diversity of its own employees; Last year, Netflix said that women made up half of its global workforce, while nearly half of its US workforce was from the global majority, according to the company. 2021 Diversity Report,

“There was a lot of talk about how Netflix was committed to diversity and inclusion, and I think a lot of us really believed that,” said another former Netflix editorial staffer who was recently laid off. The rounds were impressed, notes . “Writers actually create a lot of incredible content that you see on those channels and [bring] Really broad, diverse perspective, so it’s a shame we were all let go. ,

According to two contractors who spoke to it, it didn’t help either. t heartThe two rounds of layoffs came with very little notice. (Netflix’s contractors are employed by outside agencies, and at least one agency — Made by Fabric — has closed entirely after a recent round of layoffs.)

“They are reinventing themselves,” a third former editorial staffer, who was laid off in April, adds to the changes at Netflix. “It’s just such a corporate thing [where] Someone high who makes, you know, $10 or $20 million a year makes a bad decision or stops tackling a problem and the people on the ground bear the brunt. It definitely sucks. ,

That’s not to say that layoffs or firings are particularly unusual at Netflix, which specifically has a “keeper test” that guides the company’s approach to firing. (“If a team member was leaving for a similar role at another company, would the manager try to keep them? Those who don’t pass the keeper test (i.e. their manager won’t struggle to keep them) will be given a generous The severance package is given so that we can find someone even better for that position,” Netflix’s culture memo said.)

But with the recent round of layoffs being determined by “business needs rather than personal performance,” as a Netflix spokesperson said at the time, employees noted a loss of trust among employees. “It looks like they’ve really lost control of the narrative, like it’s out of control,” said another Netflix insider. “Trust is gone.”

The updated memo about “artistic expression” for how Netflix will handle future employee dissent will also be put to the test in light of a new comedy special from Ricky Gervais, which includes several jokes about trans women. Netflix hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment on Gervais’ special, and if the company’s handling of the Chappelle special is any indicator, it’s likely the streamer will once again come out in support of the comedian.

“It used to be part of the culture, and people saw that as empowering them to speak out and make out. The new Culture Memo makes it clear that creatives are now safe from hearing someone’s opinion they don’t agree with. ,” says the first former Netflix employee. “It’s a real shame, because if they aren’t listening to minority-affiliated employees, and they aren’t tracking audience activity through this lens, then They are working in a cultural black box.”

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